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Paisius
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« on: January 22, 2008, 02:28:32 PM »

Has anyone here listened to this recent podcast on Ancient Faith Radion entitled Orthodox Administrative Unity - What Is Holding Us Back?

I'm sure this topic has been discussed ad nauseam but I'm curious to hear some of your thought on the subject.


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« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2008, 03:27:25 PM »

I've posted my thoughts quite a few times on this site, but I'll wait to post anything here until I've listened to the linked broadcast.
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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2008, 03:39:03 PM »

As I'm listening to his presentation, (as he's complaining about the multiple departments and spreading of resources too thinly because of the redundancies), I'm thinking that he needs to follow his own advice and suggest that these departments be unified under SCOBA.

Also, the idea that there were no ethnic parishes/divisions at any point in the Church's history ignores Fr. John Behr's research about 2nd century Rome (which has been discussed here ad nauseam).

Finally, his use of "papal-like authority" describing the EP's interpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon is needlessly polemical rhetoric.
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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2008, 03:42:37 PM »

Finally, his use of "papal-like authority" describing the EP's interpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon is needlessly polemical rhetoric.
On that point I'd have to agree. I also was taken aback when he said that, I'm not sure that kind of rhetoric does anything to progress the cause of unity.
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2008, 03:47:02 PM »

As I'm listening to his presentation, (as he's complaining about the multiple departments and spreading of resources too thinly because of the redundancies), I'm thinking that he needs to follow his own advice and suggest that these departments be unified under SCOBA.

Also, the idea that there were no ethnic parishes/divisions at any point in the Church's history ignores Fr. John Behr's research about 2nd century Rome (which has been discussed here ad nauseam).

Finally, his use of "papal-like authority" describing the EP's interpretation of Canon 28 of Chalcedon is needlessly polemical rhetoric.

Cleveland,

I think the Antiochians and OCA tried to get the Greek Archdiocese to join them in forming one Christian education department under SCOBA but the Greeks insisted they needed to have specialized curriculum to meet the needs of their flock. So the Antiochians and OCA both use curriculum from OCEC but the Greek Archdiocese has created its own curriculum.

And I think our chancellor, Charles Ajalat, did heed this advice when he founded the IOCC. He had a vision of having a one charity organization which all Orthodox Christians could give to.
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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2008, 04:07:24 PM »

Cleveland,

I think the Antiochians and OCA tried to get the Greek Archdiocese to join them in forming one Christian education department under SCOBA but the Greeks insisted they needed to have specialized curriculum to meet the needs of their flock. So the Antiochians and OCA both use curriculum from OCEC but the Greek Archdiocese has created its own curriculum.

And I think our chancellor, Charles Ajalat, did heed this advice when he founded the IOCC. He had a vision of having a one charity organization which all Orthodox Christians could give to. 

To an extent, yes, but there is more to be done.  I know religious education professionals who are not entirely impressed with the OCEC, but it's a great idea.  But Religious Ed isn't the only department!  How about Youth/Young Adult Ministries, or Clergy Benefits, Outreach, etc?

I think Mr. Ajalat's wishes are slowly being realized, as more and more things are being centralized under SCOBA.  While we'd like things to happen faster (I certainly do - so we stop having these discussions over and over again), patience will be key to the long-term stability of this project.
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« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2008, 04:38:05 PM »

Has anyone heard the new Ancient Faith Radio interview with Charles Ajalat (chancellor and board member of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and architect of the Ligonier Meeting of Orthodox bishops in 1994)?  It is an excellent and very open discussion about the process of Orthodox administrative unity and who is holding it up and why.  Mr. Ajalat also suggests things laity can do to speed up the process, namely praying and voicing our opinion to our bishops.  He also suggested a possible internet petition as a means of doing this.  Does anyone know if this has kicked around as a possibility or even seriously pursued before?  On-line petitions are notoriously ineffective, but in this instance does anyone have an opinion about their possible use?
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« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2008, 04:43:07 PM »

I attended St Vladimir's Seminary from 2002-2005 and believe me, every bishop knows that the laity wants unity and every bishop I spoke with pretty much wants Orthodox unity. The problem is not usually with bishops in this country.

One practical problem is that the OCA claims it is autocephalous and thus it is assumed that other national Churches will fold in to the OCA over time. That seems like a logical and noble idea, but when one considers that the GOA has 20 times more active parishoners than the OCA, that seems quite unlikely to happen nor would it be fair to expect. So...that is one issue that needs to be overcome.

More realistic might be an alliance between the Antiochians and the OCA, wherein the Antiochians agree to continue funding the patriarchate in Antioch in order to assuage those fears. But it was explained to me--and this could be wrong--that several prominent people in the Antiochian Archdiocese are not very interested in joining with the OCA.
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« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2008, 04:54:05 PM »

IIRC, OCA-GOA unity was not a far-fetched idea back in the promising days of Ligonier. <sigh>

But I should keep my big mouth (cyber-wise) shut...
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« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2008, 05:01:22 PM »

I apologize to the mods and promise to read the postings better next time, but I see that Paisius has posted an almost identical post on the Faith board.  Must be a timely topic.  Sorry again.
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« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2008, 05:10:40 PM »

More realistic might be an alliance between the Antiochians and the OCA, wherein the Antiochians agree to continue funding the patriarchate in Antioch in order to assuage those fears. But it was explained to me--and this could be wrong--that several prominent people in the Antiochian Archdiocese are not very interested in joining with the OCA.

Not to dredge up the OCA financial scandal, but I'm sure anyone would be reluctant to go under the OCA at this time or anytime in the near future until the OCA house is in order.  The Antiochians are thriving and have an excellent vision of evangelism, so maybe they feel they'd be going backwards.
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« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2008, 05:10:53 PM »

Quote
I think Mr. Ajalat's wishes are slowly being realized, as more and more things are being centralized under SCOBA.

I actually read this elsewhere by a priest of the ROCOR recently.  He said

Quote
Although SCOBA has named itself the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in America (why is its acronym not SCCOBA, I'd like to know?), not all canonical Orthodox jurisdictions are represented on it. Neither the [Moscow]Patriarchcal Churches in the USA nor the Jerusalem Patriarchate are represented on SCOBA. No one disputes that the MP or the JP are canonical, or that they both have many parishes in this country, more than some Jurisdictions represented on SCOBA. The fact that ROCOR is now an automomous part of the Church of Russia, but still completely ignored by SCOBA should be seen in this light.

I was floored when I saw that the official minutes of the Meetings of SCOBA since 17 May 2007 have completely ignored the fact that a great wound to the unity of the Othodox Church was finally healed after eighty years! Individual Hierarchs and their Jurisdictions have expressed the joy publically or privately, but I saw no notice of it whatsoever by SCOBA itself, let alone an invitation to ROCOR to join SCOBA.

The answer, my Dear, is politics. Ecclesistical politics. Sometimes they are just as dirty as the regular variety.

Sad, but not surprising.  I would like to know what the excuse is for excluding those churches.

I also think it's unfortunate that if in the interview in this thread the person was indeed taking indeed making rhetorical arguments at other churches.  How in the world will that foster unity?

Lastly, I think overall things are moving backwards and not forwards.  How can unity move forward with an autocephalous church that is increasingly showing it is in complete disarray (at the highest levels)?
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« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2008, 05:42:31 PM »

To an extent, yes, but there is more to be done.  I know religious education professionals who are not entirely impressed with the OCEC, but it's a great idea.  But Religious Ed isn't the only department!  How about Youth/Young Adult Ministries, or Clergy Benefits, Outreach, etc?

I think Mr. Ajalat's wishes are slowly being realized, as more and more things are being centralized under SCOBA.  While we'd like things to happen faster (I certainly do - so we stop having these discussions over and over again), patience will be key to the long-term stability of this project.

Hmmm....so the Antiochians and OCA try to get the Greeks involved with a joint school curriculum and the Greeks decide they don't want to be involved with the development of this ministry and yet complain about the final product from the side lines? Perhaps if the Greeks would have been a part of the curriculum development it might have been impressive. And curriculum was a great non-controversial place to start but even here they encountered foot dragging.
I know that locally in the bay area, our young adults have had joint retreats and other events. But I was told the Greek young adults have their on website and the other Orthodox young adult groups cannot post to it or advertise pan-Orthodox events on it.


And Mr. Ajalat has done more than wish. He actually did create a joint ministry for all. He is a doer and not just a talker.

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« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2008, 05:47:21 PM »

I actually read this elsewhere by a priest of the ROCOR recently.  He said

Sad, but not surprising.  I would like to know what the excuse is for excluding those churches.

I also think it's unfortunate that if in the interview in this thread the person was indeed taking indeed making rhetorical arguments at other churches.  How in the world will that foster unity?

Lastly, I think overall things are moving backwards and not forwards.  How can unity move forward with an autocephalous church that is increasingly showing it is in complete disarray (at the highest levels)?

I could be wrong but from what I understand the JP parishes will be absorbed under the EP parish grouping in America.
Also, it was my understanding the ROCOR was invited to join SCOBA a while back (before the unity with Moscow) and they refused to join. Maybe the ROCOR bishops are worried that their flock will become unglued if they move to quickly toward cooperation with SCOBA jurisdictions due to their worries about ecumenism or other concerns.
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« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2008, 06:09:47 PM »

Not to dredge up the OCA financial scandal, but I'm sure anyone would be reluctant to go under the OCA at this time or anytime in the near future until the OCA house is in order.  The Antiochians are thriving and have an excellent vision of evangelism, so maybe they feel they'd be going backwards.

Tina,

I hope one day soon the Antiochians would join up with the OCA but frankly, I think the Antiochians are better administrators than the OCA. I think a merger of the two would be the best way to go so that the finest qualities of each jurisdiction could be utilized. The OCA has done a great job of starting monasteries and seminaries (two glaring areas the Antiochians lack) but I think the Antiochian way of running an archdiocese would probably lead to more financial stability.
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« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2008, 06:12:30 PM »

I could be wrong but from what I understand the JP parishes will be absorbed under the EP parish grouping in America.
Also, it was my understanding the ROCOR was invited to join SCOBA a while back (before the unity with Moscow) and they refused to join. Maybe the ROCOR bishops are worried that their flock will become unglued if they move to quickly toward cooperation with SCOBA jurisdictions due to their worries about ecumenism or other concerns.

This from the ROCOR website....

Quote
ROCOR was invited to participate in the Standing Conference of Orthodox Bishops of America (SCOBA) established in 1960 at the initiative of Archbishop Iakovos (Patriarchate of Constantinople). In his reply, however, Metropolitan Anastasii stated that ROCOR would participate in the conference only if representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate were excluded, which was unacceptable to Archbishop Iakovos.

Here's a link to the entire column.

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« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2008, 06:14:12 PM »

Shouldn't we move this topic elsewhere? Faith issues?
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« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2008, 06:24:14 PM »

Hmmm....so the Antiochians and OCA try to get the Greeks involved with a joint school curriculum and the Greeks decide they don't want to be involved with the development of this ministry and yet complain about the final product from the side lines? Perhaps if the Greeks would have been a part of the curriculum development it might have been impressive. And curriculum was a great non-controversial place to start but even here they encountered foot dragging.

You're so funny when you're defensive.

Who's complaining from the sidelines?  Those who have no say in the unity of the Education departments.  So go ahead, take pot shots and people who are working day-to-day in the parishes.  But don't direct your issues with the Archdiocese at people who have nothing to do with its policies.  I have no vested interest - I am not involved in curriculum for our parish; however, I do have occasion to speak to education directors since I do work for a Church, and not all are impressed with the department.

I know that locally in the bay area, our young adults have had joint retreats and other events. But I was told the Greek young adults have their on website and the other Orthodox young adult groups cannot post to it or advertise pan-Orthodox events on it.

If the GOA Young Adults have their own site in the bay area and don't include the others, it's a shame, but you've got to take it up with them.  Here in Akron, we include everyone, so if anecdotal evidence is what you're going to appeal to, then we're tied.

And Mr. Ajalat has done more than wish. He actually did create a joint ministry for all. He is a doer and not just a talker.

He and others (including Archbishop Iakovos, a GOA hierarch and the most influential Orthodox Clergyman of the last half-century) worked together.  But a big lesson in working for the Church is that one cannot rest on one's laurels; if one wishes to do so, they should retire right after their accomplishment.  Don't mistake my comments for not being grateful - in other threads, I've pointed to IOCC and OCMC as examples of how SCOBA can accomplish the major work of administrative unity.  But as long as he and others work for the Church they must continue to push for more centralization of individual departments under SCOBA.  I am called to do so on the local level, even though we have a good amount of inter-Orthodox activity here in Akron (basketball league, Orthodox Christian Women, joint prayer services, presentations, Sunday of Orthodoxy, Young Adults, etc.).  I can not and will not rest on the laurels of those who came before me, but as long as I work for Christ's Church I must always work for more.
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« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2008, 06:53:00 PM »

You're so funny when you're defensive.

Who's complaining from the sidelines?  Those who have no say in the unity of the Education departments.  So go ahead, take pot shots and people who are working day-to-day in the parishes.  But don't direct your issues with the Archdiocese at people who have nothing to do with its policies.  I have no vested interest - I am not involved in curriculum for our parish; however, I do have occasion to speak to education directors since I do work for a Church, and not all are impressed with the department.

I am glad I can entertain you with my defensiveness... Grin
You were the one who made a point out of the lack of joint ministries and I wanted to point out that there has been effort made to work together and create a joint curriculum program but not all wanted to join in to develop the program. Also, I never said the curriculum was perfect...I was being honest when I mentioned that having members from the Greek archdiocese would have most certainly have made it a better program.


Quote
He and others (including Archbishop Iakovos, a GOA hierarch and the most influential Orthodox Clergyman of the last half-century) worked together.  But a big lesson in working for the Church is that one cannot rest on one's laurels; if one wishes to do so, they should retire right after their accomplishment.  Don't mistake my comments for not being grateful - in other threads, I've pointed to IOCC and OCMC as examples of how SCOBA can accomplish the major work of administrative unity.  But as long as he and others work for the Church they must continue to push for more centralization of individual departments under SCOBA.  I am called to do so on the local level, even though we have a good amount of inter-Orthodox activity here in Akron (basketball league, Orthodox Christian Women, joint prayer services, presentations, Sunday of Orthodoxy, Young Adults, etc.).  I can not and will not rest on the laurels of those who came before me, but as long as I work for Christ's Church I must always work for more.
Believe me... all of the Antiochians I know hold Archbishop Iakovos in very high regard. He was a visionary. I honestly believe if he had been younger, we would have had Orthodox unity now. He had the courage and determination to make it happen.
In regard to Charles Ajalat...he has done a great service for the Orthodox Churches of America but I am sure he is hoping to pass the mantle on to the next generation to carry on the work. I remember reading an article he wrote where he mentioned he had a heart attack or a serious heart condition so I think it fair to say that no one will hold it against him if he doesn't found another major ministry for SCOBA.
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« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2008, 06:58:50 PM »

I am glad I can entertain you with my defensiveness... Grin
You were the one who made a point out of the lack of joint ministries and I wanted to point out that there has been effort made to work together and create a joint curriculum program but not all wanted to join in to develop the program. Also, I never said the curriculum was perfect...I was being honest when I mentioned that having members from the Greek archdiocese would have most certainly have made it a better program.

Tamara, in all fairness, describing parish religious education directors as refusing to participate yet sitting on the sidelines complaining is a complete disservice to all those directors that didn't get a choice at all concerning whether to participate or not.  If it were GOA officials who could have participated making those complaints, your assessment would probably go a lot farther, but to blame people who didn't get a choice at all for complaining is grossly unfair.
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« Reply #20 on: January 22, 2008, 07:07:23 PM »

I am glad I can entertain you with my defensiveness... Grin
You were the one who made a point out of the lack of joint ministries and I wanted to point out that there has been effort made to work together and create a joint curriculum program but not all wanted to join in to develop the program. Also, I never said the curriculum was perfect...I was being honest when I mentioned that having members from the Greek archdiocese would have most certainly have made it a better program.

I know what you meant, it's ok.  There has been some great work so far with joint ministries (like Zoe For Life and Project Mexico and whatnot).  And I definitely agree with you that having the folks from our Religious Ed department would have helped the collective.

Believe me... all of the Antiochians I know hold Archbishop Iakovos in very high regard. He was a visionary. I honestly believe if he had been younger, we would have had Orthodox unity now. He had the courage and determination to make it happen.
In regard to Charles Ajalat...he has done a great service for the Orthodox Churches of America but I am sure he is hoping to pass the mantle on to the next generation to carry on the work. I remember reading an article he wrote where he mentioned he had a heart attack or a serious heart condition so I think it fair to say that no one will hold it against him if he doesn't found another major ministry for SCOBA. 

I'm aware of his physical health issues, and I always wish him well.  I'm sure his example has inspired more than a few of the future leaders, who will hopefully pick up where he and others have left off.
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« Reply #21 on: January 22, 2008, 07:11:32 PM »

Tamara, in all fairness, describing parish religious education directors as refusing to participate yet sitting on the sidelines complaining is a complete disservice to all those directors that didn't get a choice at all concerning whether to participate or not.  If it were GOA officials who could have participated making those complaints, your assessment would probably go a lot farther, but to blame people who didn't get a choice at all for complaining is grossly unfair.

You are right. If those who have complaints about the curriculum were not given an option to participate then it is not fair to blame them. As I said earlier, I think the curriculum is okay... I have used it to teach Sunday school but it needs improvement. But the real question remaining is why weren't they allowed to participate? If the only way to promote Orthodox unity is to work together on these joint ministries why would cooperation be thwarted?


FYI: When I taught Sunday school, I used the OCEC and the Greek curriculum in tandem so it was quite obvious to me that neither curriculum was perfect but I could see that if folks from each side had been allowed to work together we would have had a more complete, well-rounded Sunday school program. (I have taught classes in all grades including high school).
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« Reply #22 on: January 22, 2008, 07:20:33 PM »

I know that locally in the bay area, our young adults have had joint retreats and other events. But I was told the Greek young adults have their on website and the other Orthodox young adult groups cannot post to it or advertise pan-Orthodox events on it.


Rather heresay, don't you think?  While it may be true, I know at least that Alyson D'Arms (AOA - lenten retreat organizer for the Fellowship of St. John the Divine) and I (OCA) have been invited to the SF Metropolis's young adult ski trip the past couple of years.  I get other invites to events from certain young adults in the GOA as well.
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« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2008, 07:21:41 PM »

I could be wrong but from what I understand the JP parishes will be absorbed under the EP parish grouping in America.


I'll believe it when it happens.  Things are just too up in the air at the moment.
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« Reply #24 on: January 22, 2008, 07:35:24 PM »

This may be better suited for a poll but how many of you believe administrative unity is necessary in North America? Maybe I'm too new to the faith and am being naive, but if everyone believes the situation is un-canonical why isn't there more of a sense of urgency to fix it?


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« Reply #25 on: January 22, 2008, 07:38:37 PM »

This may be better suited for a poll but how many of you believe administrative unity is necessary in North America? Maybe I'm too new to the faith and am being naive, but if everyone believes the situation is un-canonical why isn't there more of a sense of urgency to fix it?


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Because there's a ton of stuff to resolve going into that, as well as the problem of most jurisdictions being part of mother churches elsewhere.  It's kind of like buying a house; there's a lot more to be done than appears at first glance.
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« Reply #26 on: January 22, 2008, 08:07:06 PM »

Rather heresay, don't you think?  While it may be true, I know at least that Alyson D'Arms (AOA - lenten retreat organizer for the Fellowship of St. John the Divine) and I (OCA) have been invited to the SF Metropolis's young adult ski trip the past couple of years.  I get other invites to events from certain young adults in the GOA as well.
Alyson was the one who told me she could not post events on the Greek young adults website. She and I had discussed the possibility of starting a  bay area Orthodox website that would be open to everyone to help bring about Orthodox unity. We have been trying to find someone who has the web skills and time to make it happen. I see she posts bay area events on Orthodox Circle but the audience for the bay area group is still very small. I have posted events on that group site too.
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« Reply #27 on: January 22, 2008, 08:20:27 PM »

Alyson was the one who told me she could not post events on the Greek young adults website. She and I had discussed the possibility of starting a  bay area Orthodox website that would be open to everyone to help bring about Orthodox unity. We have been trying to find someone who has the web skills and time to make it happen. I see she posts bay area events on Orthodox Circle but the audience for the bay area group is still very small. I have posted events on that group site too.

My point is that they're not being completely exclusive - they're inviting non-GOAers to their events too.
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« Reply #28 on: January 22, 2008, 09:18:16 PM »

I've split off the rant that was previously the last post in this thread.  If you really want to respond to it, you can find it at:

North Am Unity & End Times Rant
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14420.0.html

-Cleveland, Global Moderator
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« Reply #29 on: January 22, 2008, 09:23:25 PM »

This may be better suited for a poll but how many of you believe administrative unity is necessary in North America?

I certainly do: it would pool our resources, end "jursidiction hopping," and allow each group to shore up their weaknesses (like the OCA's weak youth ministry and administration; the GOA's domestic evangelization; etc.).

Maybe I'm too new to the faith and am being naive, but if everyone believes the situation is un-canonical why isn't there more of a sense of urgency to fix it? 

Because we know that the current situation was created less out of ego and more out of neccessity: political factors in the early 20th century are largely to blame.  I think (and I've defended this in other threads) that the OCA's pre-emptive move to autocephaly set the movement back.  We've got time, and we are actually moving in the right direction, albeit slowly.  I'd rather be slow and cautious but with more long-term stability, instead of hasty and less cautious.
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« Reply #30 on: January 23, 2008, 08:21:39 AM »

I think the Church in the US is divided because the US is politically polarized on every issue under the sun. People don't recognise what unity means.
For example, consider this group:

What does this mean? I didn't realize that being "For Life" was optional in the Orthodox Church.
Are there "Orthodox Christians Against Life"?
Why the need to form a group of those in the Church who are "For Life"? The reality is, the political sphere in the US has found a way of entering the Church and using it as a microcosm to play itself out in. And just as it has polarized US society, it is polarizing the Church. The Church in the US is simply a reflection of US society in general.
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« Reply #31 on: January 23, 2008, 09:53:02 AM »

I think the Church in the US is divided because the US is politically polarized on every issue under the sun. People don't recognise what unity means.

While I agree that we've done some things to conform to the divisions made within society, the creation of the jurisdictional overlap occurred in the 1920's thanks more to overseas politics than domestic ones, and there are various other internal and external factors that have allowed it to remain in its current condition that are not influenced by the society in which we live.
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« Reply #32 on: January 23, 2008, 10:23:50 AM »

While I agree that we've done some things to conform to the divisions made within society, the creation of the jurisdictional overlap occurred in the 1920's thanks more to overseas politics than domestic ones, and there are various other internal and external factors that have allowed it to remain in its current condition that are not influenced by the society in which we live.

Cleveland - could you please elaborate on what you think are some of the internal and external factors that have impeded unity? 

It's been 14 years since Ligonier and I confess I don't think we are any closer to unity.  Mr. Ajalat says he thinks it's inevitable, but I just can't feel as optimistic.  I remember feeling so excited about the event, but doesn't anyone recall just how nasty the remarks were from the EP and after that the whole initiative just never regained any momentum.  Our Bishops and the Met. acted more like naughty school kids that got caught and backed down from the school principal.  Since then, apathy and the passage of time have done more to kill the movement, and I think there has just been the sense among the laity that this is something we are waiting on our leaders to accomplish.  Just my not very informed opinion.
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« Reply #33 on: January 23, 2008, 11:23:43 AM »

Disunity in North America is probably a side effect of the problems affecting the Orthodox world in general, in particular the issues between the MP and EP.  The biggest crisis right now is really Ukraine, when you consider the dimensions of the division there.  Many of the hieararchs don't trust each other, and nobody is working at the para church level to resolve these issues.  People just let the status quo go along and then only react when there is an actual total catastrophe at hand like occurred at Jerusalem.

In North America there is unfortunately a history of hierarchs stamping out or opposing the customs of certain groups, so these groups went elsewhere for hierarchal oversight.  That has left a legacy of distrust.  Even among the most pro unity groups, there is internally a mixed view of things.  In my experience around the AOA they openly distrusted the OCA and were skeptical of its ability to do anything to move Orthodoxy forward.

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« Reply #34 on: January 23, 2008, 12:41:53 PM »

Disunity in North America is probably a side effect of the problems affecting the Orthodox world in general, in particular the issues between the MP and EP.  The biggest crisis right now is really Ukraine, when you consider the dimensions of the division there.  Many of the hieararchs don't trust each other, and nobody is working at the para church level to resolve these issues.  People just let the status quo go along and then only react when there is an actual total catastrophe at hand like occurred at Jerusalem.

In North America there is unfortunately a history of hierarchs stamping out or opposing the customs of certain groups, so these groups went elsewhere for hierarchal oversight.  That has left a legacy of distrust.  Even among the most pro unity groups, there is internally a mixed view of things.  In my experience around the AOA they openly distrusted the OCA and were skeptical of its ability to do anything to move Orthodoxy forward.

The Russian ethnic component of the OCA in passed years did look at the Arab component of the AOA with a patronizing attitude. But as more Americans have entered both jurisdictions I think these older attitudes are being replaced with a sense of "why aren't we all in the same jurisdiction?" In fact, if Met. Herman does end up resigning this year due to pressure placed on him by his flock, you may see a much warmer relationship develop between the two jurisdictions. Perhaps that is why Charles Ajalat agreed to the interview with AFR. He has been right in the middle of trying to bring about unity. I didn't realize he was one of the planners of Ligonier. Maybe he is sensing something will happen in the next few years.
I know everyone is feeling unity is such a far off dream but you never know how things will work out. As painful as it has been to see happen, perhaps the OCA scandal will somehow bring about unity in a way none of us might have imagined.
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« Reply #35 on: January 23, 2008, 01:31:09 PM »

Does anyone know the "status" of the pre-concilliar process leading to the convening of the Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church?  Great progress was made in the '80's during Patriarch Dimitrios' (of Thrice Blessed Memory) tenure, with current Patriarch Bartholomew, it seemed, coordinating the process, as the senior metropolitan. Yet, a pre-concilliar commission hasn't convened during Bartholomew's patriarchal rein.  The last news I'd seen was a late 1990's article in the "Orthodox Observer" which showed a smiling Patriarch Alexei sitting next to Bartholomew, reporting that the synod would be convened by 2003. Does anyone know what has happened or is going on?
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« Reply #36 on: January 23, 2008, 01:39:09 PM »

But as more Americans have entered both jurisdictions I think these older attitudes are being replaced with a sense of "why aren't we all in the same jurisdiction?"

These were converts I heard this from actually.  One said, and I quote, the motto of the OCA was "think small, live in fear".

Quote
I know everyone is feeling unity is such a far off dream but you never know how things will work out. As painful as it has been to see happen, perhaps the OCA scandal will somehow bring about unity in a way none of us might have imagined.

I'm pessimistic full jurisdictional unity will happen, but I'm optimistic consolidation will.  You have to start somewhere though.
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« Reply #37 on: January 23, 2008, 01:46:09 PM »

These were converts I heard this from actually.  One said, and I quote, the motto of the OCA was "think small, live in fear".



I had never heard that one before. But I don't think there are any ethnic pride issues between converts in the two jurisdictions.

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« Reply #38 on: January 23, 2008, 05:20:15 PM »

Disunity in North America is probably a side effect of the problems affecting the Orthodox world in general, in particular the issues between the MP and EP.  The biggest crisis right now is really Ukraine, when you consider the dimensions of the division there.  Many of the hieararchs don't trust each other, and nobody is working at the para church level to resolve these issues.  People just let the status quo go along and then only react when there is an actual total catastrophe at hand like occurred at Jerusalem.

In North America there is unfortunately a history of hierarchs stamping out or opposing the customs of certain groups, so these groups went elsewhere for hierarchal oversight.  That has left a legacy of distrust.  Even among the most pro unity groups, there is internally a mixed view of things.  In my experience around the AOA they openly distrusted the OCA and were skeptical of its ability to do anything to move Orthodoxy forward.


OK somewhere on this blog site I said this so I want credit.  Undecided  It comes down to trust and the lack thereof. Progress towards unity will not be made until people begin to trust each other starting with the hierarchs.  The OCA scandal is not helping at all -  we can beat an harangue about this til doomsday but that isn't going to change things.

In a funny way the hierarchs need to start trusting each other. Have a poker night together, play a round of golf, anything. Sounds funny but how do you trust someone until you get to know them. Inter or pan Orthodox events among the rest of us would help too. These events occur in some cities but in others nothing happens.

My 2 cents

Edit - I fixed your quote box. Cleveland, GM
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« Reply #39 on: January 23, 2008, 06:21:17 PM »

Cleveland - could you please elaborate on what you think are some of the internal and external factors that have impeded unity? 

Personally?  I think the OCA's autocephaly set unity back by decades... There had been a plan in the works, that some of the hierarchs at the highest levels had in mind.  But the premature move by the OCA killed it, since after it happened the more conservative hierarchs were afraid all of America would jump ship and neglect the rest of World Orthodoxy. 

I think that a lack of unified thinking on the local level has also set us back a lot.  As much as we'd like to say that we're working for unity - which many of us are - it doesn't change the fact that when we schedule Sunday of Orthodoxy liturgies together we'll get 25% of the people we should...  It doesn't change the fact that some folks don't think the other priests are "good enough."  It doesn't change the fact that folks will travel 15 extra minutes to Church when there is one 5 minutes away.

Administrative unity is not the end-all or be-all of these problems - I think only a ground-up effort will suffice.  We need to solve these kinds of issues before we seek administrative unity.

Why am I not feeling that we need to hurry?  Because (as I've mentioned elsewhere) the reports coming back from the SCOBA meetings tell me that the process is happening, albeit very slowly.  And I'm ok with that.
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« Reply #40 on: January 24, 2008, 01:04:05 AM »

It doesn't change the fact that folks will travel 15 extra minutes to Church when there is one 5 minutes away.
I drive past three other parishes, two of them five minutes away to get to my parish almost a half and hour away.  Embarrassed

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« Reply #41 on: January 24, 2008, 01:26:42 AM »

Orthodox unity has nothing to do with what parish you decide to attend. Each parish has its own unique features and that will not change if we have only one synod. People will still choose to go where they want to go even if all the parishes in a given diocese are under the same bishop. I travel 45 minutes to an Antiochian parish even though there is another Antiochian parish that is only 20 minutes away.

What will change is there will only be one bishop for one diocese....not multiple bishops competing with one another in overlapping dioceses with redundant ministry programs. The other thing that will change is there will only be one synod of bishops for North America. By only having one synod, the bishops can come to an agreement on many issues which face the laity related to the sacraments. For example, guidelines could be given for how converts should be brought into the church.

But one of the greatest benefits will be that inquirers will no longer wonder if the various jurisdictions are separate churches which are not in communion with one another. Not long ago, an inquirer on this forum had this to say about Orthodoxy:

"When I was growing up as a Protestant, I didn't reject Orthodoxy; I didn't even consider it in the first place. Orthodoxy appeared to be a collection of different national churches, which I did not realize were in communion with each other. It was something very foreign to me. I knew Orthodoxy was kind of like Catholicism, only they took the ceremonial aspects a step further. As an Evangelical Protestant, Orthodoxy was a different world. It was only after first studying Catholicism a couple years back that I finally starting looking into Orthodoxy."
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« Reply #42 on: January 24, 2008, 04:43:37 AM »

While I am absolutely in favor of the immediate development of a transitional plan for migration to a unified North American  jurisdiction for the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church, some type of accommodations are going to have to be established for maintenance of cultural variances and existing practices.  Frankly, Saint Tikon's proposal for "some type of autonomy," which he had proposed to the Russian Holy Synod at the beginning of the 20th Century, should be published in English.  It may very well serve as a basis for a realistic plan for unified administration.

 A single bishop for a regional diocese will tend to impose his own perspective and ecclesiology.  There will be customs and practices which a bishop will not wish to accept, such as the requirements for preparation for the reception of Holy Communion.  There are many more variances that exit, especially in today's America, that should not be unilaterally changed, at once.  The initial American Orthodox jurisdictional unity must be able to accommodate the existing variances.  Parish lenten observance practices, days when the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony can be performed, and for that matter, the Typicon (Jerusalem & Constantinople) itself, will have to accommodate existing variances.  It is a massive project, but rather than simply ignoring the problem,  SCOBA, with the participation of other bishops, priests, deacons and laity, should be working toward preparation of the ultimate plan for a unified jurisdiction for North America, now.  Property ownership and its location, i.e. where offices of the dioceses and camps will be located, are other major aspects of what must be determined prior to the conversion to a unified jurisdiction.

Utilizing respectful, yet firm and sincere diplomacy with the Eastern Patriarchates, perhaps with the strategy Metropolitan Phillip employed with the Patriarchate of Antioch which resulted in autonomy for his archdiocese; such planning could realistically be accomplished, tansitionally, without changes in existing church statutes, constitutions or charters and regulations.


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« Reply #43 on: January 24, 2008, 08:50:18 AM »

Btrakas,

I agree to a degree, as long as the following doesn't happen: the OCA's model for maintaining cultural differences within the OCA structure was to create ethnic diocese within the OCA umbrella - and this would be a travesty for the unified Church.  I think the bishops will be perfectly able to allow their parishes to be culturally diverse without having overlapping ethnic diocese within the unified administrative Church.
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« Reply #44 on: January 24, 2008, 10:41:59 AM »

There could be a regional structure with vicar bishops for ethnicities that have the rights (given by the Synod) to visit the ethnic parishes and to act as intercessors to the Synod in disputes between a bishop of ethnicity X and a parish of ethnicity Y.
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